If you’re looking for a Remedy

17 06 2010

Right, I’ve come out of blog-hibernation because there’s a big ol’ event going down tonight that I should’ve written about time ago. (Sorry Ash!) And I can’t possibly let it go by without shouting a little bit about it.

So, if you’re free tonight and happen to be eastish – actually, if you happen to be ANYWHERE – get yourself to the Rhythm Factory in Whitechapel.

Remedy Live is happening.

It’s run by the Music is Remedy team. The line up looks like this:

Ed Sheeran
XO Man
Kanna Ellie
Dean Atta
Sharika Medla

All supported by the Remedies.

Now I’ve already witnessed some of these artists at previous Writer’s Block events (yeah, you know I like to shout about them a bit too). And if you’d ever given up hope on the artistic talents of our fair Lost Generation, this is the place for it to be restored and rejuvenated. London is providing the goods. No joke.

And if you need real proof, take a look at the live rehearsal sessions over on Pinboard Blog. Candid and exclusive.

It’s a fiver.

Oh, and a bit-a twitter for you too:
Music is Remedy
Writer’s Block
Pinboard Blog



The Insulting Cabaret. Nuff said mate.

15 04 2010

There’s a festival of world literature going on in town. Oh yes.

It’s called Free the Word! and this is its 3rd year in London.

International PEN are in charge of it all. They believe words make the world go round. And ya damn right, too! Read about them here.

If you only make it to one of the Free the Word! events, you should go and see the Insulting Cabaret at the Southwark Playhouse tomorrow night (Friday 16th April 2010).

Why? Cos it’s gonna be an effin’ trip.

And also cos I haven’t seen it promoted anywhere. And I work in the Southwark/London Bridge area. I was lucky enough to be told about it by the Thayil half of Sridhar/Thayil*. So of course I’m gonna share this valuable information and implore you to get out there and do something different.

Sridhar/Thayil will be on that stage doing their thang with a bunch of other musical, wordy performers. This year’s theme is love and hate. Those universally elusive concepts.

You should also go cos it’s bloody well called the Insulting Cabaret. And if that doesn’t spark even a little curiosity in you, then your brain cells have obviously been numbed by the inane Leader’s Debate that was on TV earlier. So I suppose you can be forgiven.

I haven’t given you a potpourri parcel in a while, have I?

Here you go:

The Insulting Cabaret: Love Vs. Hate
Venue: Southwark Playhouse
Date: 16th April 2010
Time: 9.30pm
Price: 8 quid.

*if the name Thayil sounds familiar, it’s cos back in January I blogged about the anthology he edited (and contributed to). The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poetry. Remember?

(photo provided by whatmegsaid)

Back in a sweet minute

12 04 2010

I know, I know, I’ve been rubbish at posting.

I started a new job recently (yay!), and between that and shopping for bathroomy stuff for a loft conversion and other eastery family stuff, and a laptop with crappy internet, I’m surprisingly knackered. That ain’t right. I’m only 23.

Anyway, I promise to be back up on this soon as I get my act together.

In the meantime, you should join me at the Writer’s Block 2nd Birthday Party happening THIS Wednesday 14th April at Cargo in Shoreditch, London. If the name Writer’s Block sounds familiar, it’s cos you read about them here.

Jesse Boykins III will be performing specially for me.

Oh. I mean us. The audience. I guess.

And there’s a phenomenal line-up of other outta-this-world spoken-word artists, poets, musicians and general pioneers of creative beauty. I’ve seen them all before on the humble Writer’s Block stage at their usual Juno headquarters, and I can’t wait to see them tear it up again at Cargo.

You can buy your tickets in advance here.

Join in the celebrations. Bring everyone. It’s gonna be big.

More than a Muslim musical

11 03 2010

“I’m the author of this piece, but not the writer” – Victoria Brittain’s name is on the byline of the new theatre piece Waiting, but she’s the first to point out that it’s actually a wholly collaborative effort.

This weekend the lives of five refugee women will be given a spotlight at the Southbank Centre. These women’s husbands have been in Guantanamo Bay or detained in Belmarsh Prison without trial for suspected links with terrorism. Their cultural backgrounds vary from Senegal to Jordan, Palestine to the English Midlands. Their stories as women, wives, mothers placed in such a position are yet to be told.

Waiting aims to give a unique perspective on the war on terror. Victoria Brittain has spent years speaking with real women about their experiences, hearing how their lives were blast into turmoil in a hostile post-9/11 world. She’s collected these conversations, and what will be presented on the stage in the intimate Purcell Room is a powerful amalgam of these voices, I’m sure.

With the unconventional perspective comes the unconventional medium. Rather than just speaking the words, the women will also sing of their experiences. There’s an original score written by Jessica Dannheisser with cellos to accompany the vocals.

If you really think about it, where else are you likely to see such an expression from such a viewpoint before? There are loads of documentaries, each with their unique take on various post-9/11 perspectives. This one, however, is as yet unearthed. And I think the verbatim music theatre genre will serve to bring out the poignancy of the women’s words, uprooting their voices from the dark underbelly of female Muslim experience in Britain, forcing people to stop, look and listen.

There are just a handful of tickets left for the Saturday night performance at the Southbank Centre, and if you can make it, I would urge you to do so!

Here’s all the info you’ll need:

Waiting by Victoria Brittain
Date: Friday 12 March – Saturday 13 March 2010
Time: 7.45pm on both nights
Price: £15
Click here to book.

After each performance, Victoria Brittain will chair a debate discussing the issues raised during the evening. The panels include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Gareth Peirce, Manjinder Virk, Riz Ahmed, Salma Yacob, Vanessa Redgrave and Moazzam Begg.

Watch this excellent promotional mini-documentary to find out a bit more

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Paraiso!

9 03 2010

Some of you may know I’m part of the Paraiso School of Samba, London’s most authentic Brazilian Rio-style samba school.

(Here’s a picture of me and my fellow sambistas playing the part last Christmas:)

This year we’re celebrating International Women’s Day with the Lambeth Council presenting an all-female bateria (drum ensemble). We’ll be resurrecting the spirit of Rio’s carnival, only just laid to rest a couple of weeks ago,and bringing the party to the streets of Brixton. There’s no doubt we’re gonna be making the loudest sound there with our drums!

Here’s a little snippet from the Lambeth Council Website to give you an idea of what else you can get up to:

We have a range of activities on offer including free therapies, demonstrations, children’s corner, fashion and jewellery, sewing, employment, education and financial advice, dance and poetry and much, much more.

Motivational seminars
You can also attend one of three motivational seminars offering practical tips on:

  • ‘How to reorder your life’
  • ‘Feel the fear – do it anyway’
  • ‘How to make your money matter’.

Come and show your support, have a little boogie, and check out all the other activities going down at the Lambeth Town Hall this Saturday 13 March from midday til 4pm.

“It’s always important to remember your roots”

12 02 2010

The name “Die Antwoord” has been making barely-visible tremors on the landscape of my facebook news feeds for a few days now. I decided to check out some of the videos posted by my facebook mates and do a bit o’ web-diggin’.

What I’ve found so far has got me seriously excited. Die Antwoord are a South African rap crew made up of Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and the man behind the beats, DJ Hi-Tek (not to be mistaken with the mighty DJ Hi-Tek, American hip-hop producer, one half of Reflection Eternal with Talib Kweli).

With no exaggeration, they are unlike anything I’ve ever come across. While they’re certainly one of the most bizarre-looking ensembles to recently grace the online music sphere (check out Ninja’s tattoos and high-top, Yo-Landi’s sky-high fringe, dyed blonde by professionals because according to her, “it’s always important to remember your roots”, Hi-Tek’s way of, errr, just looking like a fat lazy guy dreaming about a double cheeseburger), there’s no doubt that they’re causing a stir…

The main rapper, Ninja, drops insolent flows in a thick South African accent, while the catchy hooks, sung in Yo-Landi’s genuinely high-pitched voice, stick around in your head even hours after listening. DJ Hi-Tek has provided the goods in a profound way. I defy anyone to sit still without at least bumping their heads if not more to these tracks.

There’s much to be learned from Die Antwoord. Least of all, the meaning of Zef, which is explained by the two vocalists of the group here. Click and watch it. It’s actually hilarious!

Beyond that, there’s a fierce, almost violent loyalty to the varied and diverse influences that make up South African culture, adn ultimately, that make them them. Die Antwoord embrace their Cape Town heritage and are determined to bring it forth for the whole world to see.

Now I urge you to head to their website and check out their album $o$ which will be on sale soon I believe. Read their “20 Fund Facts about Die Antwoord” too. And then try to decypher their Cape Town slang.

Here are some more videos:

This review at Tilt Magazine is also pretty good.

There’s loads more to be seen and heard on the ‘interwebs’. Just google ‘ em and watch the next 3 hours disappear in a haze of Die Antwoord oblivion.

It’s some next-level shit.

If you like words

8 02 2010

The most awesome proprietors of the revolutionary Writer’s Block (see blogroll to the right, yo) are putting on their first show of the decade! And you should come along for these reasons:

  1. You are guaranteed to see/hear the most inspiring and talented acts this century, whether they’re poets, musicians, film-makers, graffiti artists, the DJ or the most charming compere, Tracy D.
  2. The bar, Juno, serves fantastic food.
  3. Because I said so. Obviously!

But seriously. I first got into spoken word and performance poetry while studying in NYC where I frequented the ultra-quirky Bowery Poetry Club. Their regular Tuesday open mic night, the Urbana Poetry Slam featured some of the MOST blindingly talented wordsmiths I had ever come across. Every time I went, I left the buzzing atmosphere with goosebumps, and probably fancying one of the poets for I am, indeed, a sucker for a well-articulated mofo.

I came back to London desperate to witness the same level of overly inspiring, vibrant and unique showcasing of talent. Of course poetry is around in many forms and personas in the city, but I had yet to experience the bumpin’, audience-participatory, almost-party vibe that the Bowery had offered.

My poetry-prayers were answered in the form of Writer’s Block. After failing to successfully make it down to the Shoreditch location a few times, I eventually reached it in June of last year and was completely blown away! With the warm June sun shining outside (yeah, remember when the sunshine was actually HOT?) the bar was packed and after each act, there was a buzzing consensus that we had all just witnessed some of the rawest and genuine talent to come from this fledgling, ‘lost’ generation in the past few years.

And although never exactly the same, subsequent Writers Block events have always featured the same high level of talent from already-established as well as up-and-coming artists. And with people from all kinds of backgrounds, the stories they bring to the stage are always infallibly varied and fascinating. There’s bound to be something that grabs your attention by the collars, comes right close up to its face and lays on a gigantic smacker, leaving you enamoured, if only for a sweet minute.

If that’s not enough to persuade you, then check out the review of the September 2009 Writer’s Block on the Bookfreeq blog here. (If you take a quick glance at the blogroll you’ll see her freeqy self perched among other very cool links!).

I’ll now present to you, as always, all the finely-scented details in a neat little parcel pour toi:

Writer’s Block “Passion” Show
Date: Thursday Feb 11th 2010
Time: 8pm onwards (but I’d advise getting there early as it gets packed fairly quickly)
Location: Juno, 134-135 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JE
Price: £5

If you want to stalk Writer’s Block (they won’t mind):

See you there fellow wordlovers!